tv [untitled] May 17, 2011 8:00am-8:30am PDT
in the last few days, with starbucks -- what we are talking about is not just pet food stores. it is the identity of our city. i went down to low celtuce the other day. -- los altos the other day. i don't know where i was. i some miles of chance. someone gave me this. -- i saw miles of chains. someone gave me this. you have these other cities with chain stores and formula retail. if we don't put a stop to this, our lovely city that some of us may take for granted, will start to look like this.
that is what is going to happen. it won't be funny. it might be funny, because there are conventions. a lot of them will say, "san francisco -- don't go there." this is a lovely, lovely city. it should not become a mega strip mall. somebody goes from the airport to downtown san francisco and do not know what city they are in. the could be in denver or albuquerque. they could be anywhere. that is the big picture, which i hope is what we are thinking about, not just pet food express. was that a bill? -- bell? president o'brien: 32nd morning.
>> this can spread like a virus, you know? in five years, the entire area -- the chains are waiting to do this. this is what they do. president o'brien: thank you. any further speakers? , head. >> my name is conner o'brien. i am from san francisco. i was going here in 1982. i know there are many people, who moved here and have been living here for longer than i have been alive, who love the city and want to keep it beautiful and keep it local, and keep these giant signs out of our store fronts.
i would just like to remind all of you that there are many of us out there that would like the opportunity to start small businesses of many kinds. with the gloomy over head, to also think about competing with large businesses such as wal- mart, which has not made it into the city, thankfully -- it is just enough to keep us out of it. it keeps us out of trying. if we let these stores in continuously, many entrepreneurs will prefer to go elsewhere just because there is more of a chance of success. that is all i have to say. thank you. president o'brien: thank you. any further public comment? >> good evening, commissioners.
i am a resident of san francisco for about 15 years. i also own a small pet store in the marina district. about a year-and-a-half ago, i actually spoke to the commission. i really appreciated at that time -- you guys were so receptive to our cause. what our cause was at that time was we were basically saying get ready. we are already in the midst of a recession. big businesses are looking to come into the city of san francisco. that is something we have held off for many years. we can, i guess, get paid off by big businesses talking about corporate payroll taxes and property taxes, but you and i both know. what is general electric paying for taxes? 0. i am paying payroll taxes.
i am paying my accountant in san francisco. i am paying my attorney in san francisco. my employees are all in san francisco. pet food express, when i helped to start this campaign a year and a half ago -- i really appreciated how receptive you guys were at that time. pet food express had 34 stores at that year. do you know how many they have now? they have 42 stores. they went from 34 to 42 stores in a year and a half. do you think the recession or the economy -- these think the economy is booming, that it warrants an increase from 34 to 42? what the you think is happening? they are eating our lunch. i will give you an example.
pet food express opened a mile away from my store in february of this year. i don't want to give the specific name brand, but i carry raw food. my raw food sales went down by 80% in the month of february, 80%. i cannot continue to support that as a small business. my business has been there for 11 years, you guys. i understand the legislation is proposing to have 10 blocks. that is it. 10 blocks. the some of these other small businesses will not go out of business. the other thing i wanted to tell you about is because they offered that first grand opening month 20% off the entire food -- the entire store, and free dog
baths to every owner. i cannot tell you how many of my love customers said, "we went in." when i asked them, "did you buy anything," they said, "a couple of things, but not much." that hurt me. i do not have anything to balance it. >> my name is george. you guys both mentioned that we were covered. if that was the fact, they would not be there. i moved my store four blocks away and we opened our new store about two weeks before they opened their stores. we did that to protect ourselves. it cost us a lot of money for that move.
it cost $80,000 for that move. we had to carry a lease at two stores for a year. the day we opened on castro street, people came in as a group, identified themselves as pet food express, and said "are you afraid record to run you out of business -- we're going to run you out of business?" they got delivery on holiday week monday. none of us little stars did. obviously, there is a game there. it is working for them and is not working for us. we are in jeopardy. i would really appreciate you guys supporting us. thank you. president o'brien: thank you. any further public comment? >> my name is tailored jordan.
i had the opportunity to do some neighborhood outreach on behalf of petco for this project. i had the opportunity to speak to almost 500 supporters of the project. that represents people who want to see more pet services products that the star would provide to them. there are additional thousands of petco calls club members who now have to travel to distant stores in order to enjoy membership benefits. unfortunately, petco was not made aware of its place on the agenda until approximately 3:30 this opinion, so we did not have a chance to let our supporters know they could be here to offer their voices to you tonight. my apologies. as recently as this past week, i personally spoke with small business owners on gery boulevard -- geary boulevard who
are supportive of having a store in there because they are concerned with the number of empty storefronts. the award for their businesses that there is a lack of foot traffic. unfortunately, they were unable to attend tonight's hearing because of the last-minute nature of our awareness of the hearing. i do have a pocket. i apologize that i only have one. if i had more time, i would be more than happy to offer them to all of you. it is fairly basic. it provides facts on the project. this is a sample of some of the average petco has performed in the neighborhood in the support members have given to the project. thank you. president o'brien: thank you. further public comment?
>> iphone -- i own b and b pet supplies. you mentioned the petco signatures in year packet. it is also making a comment, even though it is mentioned -- with petco being where it wants to go and the two other stores, there is only a certain amount of customers you can have. if we are all sharing the customers, the ones who are going to make it are going to be the ones with the pockets, because they can afford to live through thin times. if you and i were to open up the store and try to get a loan for that, you would not make it.
but because of their deep pockets, as i mentioned, they are able to live through that until these other stores close. it will really hurt us as owners. >> thank you. any further public comment? >> i moved down here about four years ago from washington. i am coming from the same kind of industry, a locally-owned a pet food store. i was able to walk in, looking for dog food, finding my own little niche. i had a conversation with the owner and found a job a week later. i can't think our small businesses enough for providing such a fulfilling opportunity for me to be part of the city, to be connected with the castro
merchants association. we are the people who really get to know your dog or cat. we know their names. we know their favorite treats. we know the ways they like to be packed. we are the people who buy and the city together, mickey unique, and help our neighborhoods have some kind of unique characteristics that define them. neighborhoods have the chance to define themselves. i am really thankful to be a part of that. i want to make sure that will continue. there is no way i could find such a fulfilling chance at employment and advancement, and the ability to make money, to be part of the city, in a larger corporation like that. this is high turnover was just retail and just cashiering. that is now we are about. thank you for your time.
president o'brien: thank you. any further public comment? >> good evening. i am a land-use attorney with a law firm representing petco in their conditional use application process for their store. i wanted to take this opportunity to express to the commission the our legal concerns with the ordinance that has been proposed at this point. we have been in touch with the city attorney's office. i have a letter here from april. among the to express some of the major issues we have here. in 2007, the california supreme court issued a ruling that stated that zoning ordinances are impermissible when they have a primary objective of a private implied-competitive goal of protecting our disadvantaging a particular business. i have a list of reasons why i
think this is the case here. i think it is pretty clear at this point that the ordinance has been submitted to stop the petco on geary boulevard. we simply want the opportunity to have a conditional use process, to have a conversation and public process. petco has been working with the community, has been reaching out to merchants and residents in the area. formula retail requirements require us to go to a public meeting and have public meetings at the planning commission. that gives petco an opportunity to present their proposed store, and also gives the community and the city the ability to weigh in on whether it is inappropriate use. the request to do not recommend this ordinance. thank you very much for your time.
>> my name is mitchell berg. i am a pet store owner. petco is a huge corporation that as somebody previously mentioned has the ability to withstand a hardship as smaller businesses go under. if the job of san francisco is to protect the city and keep it strong and vibrant, i think it is in its best interests to protect small business. we helped to foster creativity in the city by supporting small-independent manufacturers. they can walk into our store and provide their products out of their apartment. big business does not do that. big business is going to be bad for san francisco for numerous reasons. i just hope you guys can see the wisdom in keeping small
business is strong in san francisco. obviously, the lawyers are here. that is what big business does. your job is to help maintain this city pepys strength and fiscal vibrancy. thank you. -- this city's strength and fiscal vibrancy. thank you. >> i am a resident of the richmond district. i live about eight blocks from where the proposed store would come in. i want to point out a couple different things. it is disingenuous for petco to say they reached out to the neighborhood. dignified people within 300 feet of the proposed location. if you wanted a genuine dialogue with the community, you would notify the neighborhood. there are many people in our neighborhood who are opposed. we want our small businesses supported. petco has a right to exist. san franciscans also have the right to tell you what we want.
01 stores that will support the city and keep the money in the city, and will care about the neighborhood that are located in. to say your corporate profits are going to san diego and you are a citizen of the neighborhood is to be somewhat disingenuous. i urge you to support this legislation. thank you. president o'brien: thank you. further public comment? seeing none, i will hand it back to the commissioners. vice president adams: i just want to say i do support this legislation. i echo what herb crohn -- the merchant associations, and i can appreciate this as a customer to. you guys vote. it should be heard. my second comment is -- i find it hard to believe he knew at 3:30 this afternoon there was a
meeting here today, when this has been out in the public since last week. i have had several people who knew about this last week. in doing my own homework on this, there was very little neighborhood outreach by petco in the richmond district. i have to agree with all these comments i heard. i did not hear about any out reach on the richmond district. in my district, we like to hear from both sides. the people have spoken. i support this legislation. commissioner o'conner: i wanted to applaud the participation and everyone here that came to light. employees, neighbors, pet shop owners from other districts around the city -- it does take a united front. i really appreciate that this
coalition has that. i would ask that it is extended to other businesses, not just put shops -- pet shops, but that we stay united as small business owners across various types of businesses. when i look at the presentation from the chain store and see the photos of these vacant properties, they are not vacant because we are lacking big-box pet stores. they are vacant because the video stores are gone, the community video stores, the community clothing stores. all these small businesses have been wiped out by internet businesses. we are providing all these services to the city of san francisco, and paying our taxes. yet there is not a level playing field when it comes to lack of taxes that online stores to not pay for. i just ask that you state -- take time to come to these
meetings. we are all busy. but if we care we have to do this or we are going to get steamrolled. thank you. commissioner dooley: thank you. i also want to add my support in congratulations to the small businesses for sticking to your guns and sticking together. i also wanted to comment on the side that as far as i have been apprised, the city attorney -- the legislation has been fully vested for legality. pet could challenge this early in the game. that is not -- petco challenged this early in the game. that is not really an issue and should not be taken into consideration. i want to add that some of what we are looking at today is just a lack of the updating of our planning code. i think that is really, in the future, where we should, as the small business commission, focus
a lot of attention -- reviewing how formula retail, for example, works in the code. does it work right now? have there been changes? right now, the cu for formal retail only requires discussion of any impacts for just a few blocks, but we all know these large companies' financial effect is much broader than just what it used to be when those codes were written, which was just a few blocks. it also does not address the potential cumulative city-wide effect of multiple locations. that really can impact many, many small businesses beyond that exact location. you have a pet express here. you have a petco here. you get a pet smart here. it has a profound effect. we need to address that when discussing the formula retell
code. i also think we need to address some way with a rental option, such as allowing subdivision of these huge white elephants that were caused by chains building -- that is something we need to look into. we also need an economic incentive for landlords to rent to independence. these are things we could explore as we move forward this year. i think we're really need to take a look at this in the planning code. i know the planning commission's asked for a joint meeting on the return code. i think we need to move on from this and figure out a way to make this work city-wide, based on what is happening today. commissioner yee riley: i want to thank supervisor mar.
i appreciate the outreach effort to all of your constituents and you're taking time to talk to us tonight. i know how hard it is to work a long day and still come and speak to us. thank you. supervisor mar: -- commissioner o'conner: one final point i wanted to make was connecting this to the legislation we heard earlier from supervisors mirkarimi and fearrell. the mayor was talking about how san francisco can not provide seed money and control how that company grows. but companies want to be here. employees want to live in san francisco. they do not want to live in los gatos and los altos. we have unix will businesses. we have unique restaurants. we have to keep that, or we lose
our competitive a vintage. -- competitive a bandage -- advantage. there are not a lot of small businesses in this area because there are not a lot of employees. this city is unique because of small business. thank you. commissioner clyde: i also want to thank everyone for being here and showing such a great solidarity with this issue and with the small independent stores. the effect of predatory pricing is, and has been demonstrated repeatedly -- one small shops go out of business, then the prices increase and increase. i have some experience with a local safeway that is exponentially higher than other safeway's simply because it does not have any competition in the area at all.
this has been happening for years. it continues to happen. there is that time where a community might enjoy lower prices, and that is great, but once those little shops close, then the price goes to what the market will bear, and prices are often higher. in san francisco, with high incomes and high disposable income in many of our neighborhoods, we know why these companies want to locate in our neighborhoods. we have high disposable income. that would be death for our city. it is not our value. one of our great values is allowing our neighborhoods to design themselves -- to define themselves and change the definitions as they move forward. i have to say i will always
stand by a neighborhood that is working this hard to tell us what you would like to see in your neighborhood. i thank you for that. i have watched other formula retail stores, particularly in the food markets, now triangulating the city. i am concerned with that. i am concerned with our independent groceries, our independent produce markets, and some of the effects of formula retail on them. we will be looking at that as well. for this, thank you very much. president o'brien: i just have a couple of thoughts about it. in a previous career, i did a lot of traveling. i was pretty much in every city in the union. i am an immigrant, but i never met a fellow american who had
been to as many cities as i have. i installed telecommunications networks. it is true that people around the country and around the world will tell you that san francisco does have something that is unique. if you go to a midwest city are some of the other cities that don't have the aggressive control that san francisco does about, "wait a minute. let's think about what is going on." these cities, you drive from the airport downtown, and it is mcdonald's and kentucky fried chicken. it is hard not to be unimpressed by it. that is definitely something that is precious to san franciscans. you probably have to be some consistent to really appreciate that, but everyone sees it when they come here. they may not see what it takes to keep it that way. i am behind that wholeheartedly.
we are a small business commission. it is probably fair to say we are going to have a slight bias to the small business people. that is why this commission was set up, was to give voice to the small business community. it is hard to ignore that mandate, if you will. i am concerned about the approach of an outright ban. i kind of like supervisor mar and others considering this -- commissioner riley talked about moving forward. i don't like controls like that. i don't know if it is going to get all the way to the supreme court and through all the court agencies to find out if it is legal or not. i don't think we're going to turn this down because we are turn this down because we are afraid it's not legal.